José Antonio Hermida and team-mate Rudi van Houts were denied a third successive victory at the 2012 Andalucia Bike Race by back-to-back punctures in the closing kilometres.
The duo won Sunday’s opening prologue and backed that up with victory on stage one, before taking charge of the 76km stage in Córdoba on Tuesday.
But with seven kilometres to go, and with more than two minutes on the Portuguese duo of Hannes Genze and Andreas Kugler, van Houts suffered his first puncture, which saw the race leaders overtaken by Genze and Kugler, who also ride for the Multivan Merida team.
And, having fixed the flat and continued on the descent towards the finish, van Houts heard the hiss for a second time, although the duo still managed to get to the line in second position on the stage to remain in the overall lead.
“Leading the four Multivan-Merida riders was the ideal scenario, gaining time on our main rivals,” said Hermida. “But our colleagues began to suffer due to the high pace with 20kms to go, so we decided to go solo and strengthen the leadership.
“And although we had a couple of punctures [and finished second], we gained some more time in the overall on Pinto and Ferreira. We will continue fighting to keep this jersey.”